Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A lie by any other name

Eric Lichtblau reports in today’s New York Times that a recently declassified State Department report debunked the administration’s infamous “16 words” nearly a year before Bush spoke them before Congress and the country.

Those words, you recall, detailed a uranium sale from Niger to Iraq that was supposed to be prime evidence of the smoking gun/mushroom cloud that necessitated the immediate military invasion of Iraq. But now it appears members of the Security Council were told in early 2002 that the sale was “’unlikely’ because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles.” For instance:

Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department's intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send “25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers” filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.

Now that seems like a pretty easy thing to verify, dontcha think?

Of course, the Bush bunch has admitted that the 16 words turned out to be garbage, but have stood by a “garbage in, garbage out” excuse, as in, they were just referencing “flawed intelligence.”

It is now clear, if not from the claims of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the conclusion of Italian intelligence officials, or last year’s Robb-Silberman report on intelligence “failures,” then certainly from this declassified State Department intel, that the Iraq-Niger connection was hyped not because of flawed intelligence, but because of flawed morals. The Bush administration knowingly manipulated intelligence to “sell” the Iraqi incursion.

By the way, “manipulated intelligence” is just a polite way of saying “LIED.”

But we all know Bush lied; why does this still matter?

Well, beyond the thousands of Americans and Iraqis that continue to be injured and killed every day because of this lie, there is

  • Lying to Congress—as Bush did in the 2003 State of the Union—which is an impeachable offence.
  • Intelligence “reform”—deemed necessary because of the so-called “intelligence failures”—which continues to be used as cover by Bush & co. for a variety directives that impinge on our civil rights.
  • Plame-gate”—the now famous attempt by high-ranking administration officials (like, the highest ranking ones) to smear Joseph Wilson and his wife because they dared to oppose the administration and expose the lie. The lie, the smear, and the cover-up are still part of an on-going investigation.
  • The continued lying to us. Even though various admin mouthpieces have “admitted” that the yellowcake story is crap, claims continue to be made by the likes of Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Rice that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. (In a related lie, Cheney and Bush continue to assert a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.)

Oh, and, I should note one more issue: The declassified intelligence report referred to in the Times article—that’s a State Department report. It was OK’d, read, and signed by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell—the same Colin Powell who sat in the well of the House and applauded those 16 words, the same Colin Powell who made the case for war in Iraq before the United Nations, and the same Colin Powell who remained silent about all he knew throughout 2003 and 2004.

And, it’s the same Colin Powell, former soldier, former head of the Joint Chiefs, who sat quietly by as non-veterans Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice put his fellow military men and women in harm’s way without a real cause or a realistic battle plan, and the same Powell who watched as this cabal destroyed the US Army, the organization that propelled him to national prominence.

(I know some of you think I have it out for Colin. Well, I do. As I said/quoted on MLK day, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”)

And, it is now the same Bush administration that continues to lie to us—and to Congress, for that matter—about a host of activities, from warrantless domestic spying to illegal detentions, from “extraordinary rendition” to sanctioned torture, from grants for African AIDS victims to hurricane relief for displaced Americans. . . . This is an administration—a president—that continues to lie from sun-up to sundown, from sea to shining sea. Today’s revelations are just another documented example.


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